Borders Railway: Future goals for new route drawn up

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

image copyrightDougie Johnston
image captionScottish Borders Council has drawn up a string of proposals to improve services in the region

A list of proposals has been drawn up to enhance the long-term future of the Borders Railway - including extending the line to Carlisle.

Scottish Borders Council is being asked to endorse the response to a consultation by Network Rail.

The Scotland Route Study will inform future infrastructure provision around the country between 2019 and 2029.

The council has drawn up a string of suggestions on how rail routes in the region could be improved.

They fall into a number of "key elements".

To Hawick and beyond?

It said that would build on the success the line has enjoyed since it opened.

The report added that such a development would provide "additional resilience" for East Coast and West Coast Main Lines in the event of problems.

It also stressed the move could give "further economic opportunities and social benefits for the south of Scotland".

image copyrightGoogle
image captionA link to Hawick is among the future goals for rail services in the Borders

One-track mind

Concerns about "service resilience" have also emerged over the first months of operation of the railway with reports of delays or cancellations.

The council is being advised to recommend the construction of "dynamic passing loops" to improve reliability.

This echoes a concern raised by the Campaign for Borders Railway about the constraints imposed by the amount of single-track on the route.

image copyrightThinkstock
image captionMore passing loops are also seen as a key part of improving provision

Come wi-fi with me

Parking provision at Tweedbank station and, to a lesser extent, Stow have also been raised as an issue.

An overflow car park has been provided at Tweedbank in an adjacent industrial estate but a longer term solution could "encourage further patronage".

Improvements to wi-fi provision have been flagged up as another area for investment.

The existing service has been described as "intermittent" and failing to "fully encourage" mobile working.

image copyrightThinkstock
image captionCurrent wi-fi has been described as "intermittent"

Full steam ahead

"The tourist market is very important to the Scottish Borders," the report stated.

"Every opportunity to enhance the tourist offering should be exploited," it added before listing a number of areas for improvement.

They include:

  • continued delivery of the steam train experience
  • enhanced on-carriage bicycle provision
  • co-operation on specific event provision
  • further work on tourist-related activity on the route
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionSteam train services are considered an important element of boosting tourist numbers

Power to the Peebles?

The final part of the proposals renews the council's backing for two new stations on the ECML at Reston and East Linton as "transformational for local communities".

It also recognises the success of the Borders Railway as encouraging hopes of reopening other lines.

It said some might not be suitable for redevelopment but cited the former route between Edinburgh and Peebles as one worth considering.

The full report will go before Scottish Borders Council on 22 March.

image copyrightThinkstock
image captionReopening a route to Peebles could be another upgrade to be considered

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